Yoga Philosophy for Yoga Teachers

In last week’s newsletter we talked about yoga philosophy at a high level, the Eight Limbs of Yoga. This week I’d like to dive in to the first of the limbs, the Yamas, which are ethical guidelines for interactions with other people, and explain the Yamas in the context of the role of the yoga teacher. The Yamas are:

  • Ahimsa - non-harm or helping, kindness
  • Satya - truthfulness
  • Asteya - non-stealing
  • Brahmacharya - conservation of energy
  • Aparigraha - non-possessiveness

These concepts are familiar and we all know what they mean, but take a moment to think about how they apply in the context of different areas of your own life. And for the purposes of our discussion today, let’s dive a little deeper to what these mean in the context of being a yoga teacher.

Practice Ahimsa (kindness)

  • Learn your students’ names. It makes them feel recognized and cared for.
  • Offer options and modifications so that no student is injured.
  • Encourage students to be kind to themselves in their thoughts.
  • Welcome all students.
  • Respect privacy.
  • Respect personal space and boundaries. Be mindful with hands-on adjustments - both for physical safety and privacy.

Practice Satya (truthfulness)

  • Walk your talk.
  • Make a true representation of who you are.
  • Conduct yourself with dignity and respect.
  • Teach what you know. Be honest about what you don’t.
  • Ask for guidance or refer out when necessary.

Practice Asteya (non-stealing)

  • The world is abundant. The pie gets bigger.
  • Your students will find you. There’s no need to poach students from other teachers or studios.
  • Respect the start and end times of class to avoid stealing students’ time.

Practice Brahmacharya (conservation of energy)

  • Show up ready to teach. Check your baggage at the door.
  • Be careful not to over-commit to teaching numerous classes. Over time, the quality of your teaching will suffer. Eventually you can become exhausted and burn out.
  • Establish boundaries with your students.
  • Do show up to class and be present and prepared to teach. Do teach with caring and compassion, but remember that their issues are their own issues. Your role as a yoga teacher is to lead the practice.

Practice Aparigraha (non-possessiveness)

  • Encourage your students to try classes with other teachers. Cultivate their confidence in their own practice so that they feel comfortable trying new things. Do not make them feel dependent on you.

When we think of yoga, it’s the physical practice that is usually top of mind. But as you can see, there is a ton of substance and value in the more subtle aspects of yoga. Yoga philosophy can transform your practice, your relationship with yourself and with others, and even your life.

If this type of learning is of interest to you, consider signing up for our 2016 Yoga Teacher Training program. You can read all about it on our Teacher Training webpage.

And please note that we’ve extended the Early Registration deadline just a bit. Applications received by October 15th are eligible for the Early Registration Discount through October 31st. Email us if you'd like us to send you the application.

All my best,